Courtesy of Amtrak
Rendering of proposed new Union Station train shed, looking south from H Street. Existing historic station would be behind new shed.

Amtrak has unveiled an ambitious plan, which would cost $6.5 billion or more, to revamp Washington, D.C.,’s Union Station, adding capacity to handle future passenger traffic, preserving the historic station’s distinctive architecture and seeking to give a boost to the local economy.

The expansion and alterations to the station would be literally topped off by 3 million sq ft of new, privately financed office, residential and other buildings, to be constructed over the existing rail yard.

Amtrak estimates that the plan, which officials outlined at a kickoff event at the station on July 25, will cost $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion over 15 to 20 years. The privately funded buildings would cost an additional $1.5 billion.

Except for the master plan itself and some other early work, the financing for the station portion of the massive program is not in place.

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman told reporters that the funding would come from a combination of sources, including the railroad company, federal and local governments and the private sector.  He said, “Amtrak’s going to pay for a lot of it,” but provided no specifics.

Asked whether it was problematic to release the proposal without an accompanying financial plan, Boardman said, “You’ve got to have a vision to get anything done.” He added, “If you don’t have a vision or a plan of where you’re going, you’re not going to get anything funded.”

Amtrak’s consultant team of Parsons Brinckerhoff and HOK helped to develop the plan.

The four-phase plan would retain the 105-year-old station’s architecture but convert its rear, or north, area into a much more spacious, multi-level complex.